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|NEW YORK — The New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays will experience what it’s like to look across the field and feel as if they’re staring into a mirror for the last time this season on Sunday afternoon when the teams play the rubber game of a three-game series at Citi Field.
The Mets’ Chris Flexen (0-1 http://www.steelersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-chukwuma-okorafor-jersey , 10.80 ERA) is scheduled to face the Rays’ Nathan Eovaldi (2-3, 3.92) in a battle of right-handers.
The Rays posted a 3-0 win Saturday afternoon when ace left-hander Blake Snell tossed 7 1/3 strong innings and Wilson Ramos collected two RBIs.
The Mets and Rays have combined for just nine runs in the first two games, four of which were registered when New York’s Jose Bautista hit a walk-off grand slam to lift the Mets to a 5-1 win on Friday night. The teams had just eight hits in 77 plate appearances with runners on base on Friday and Saturday.
Such struggles have become routine for the Rays and Mets, who ranked 26th and 27th in the majors in runs scored after Saturday’s game — during which Tampa Bay moved past New York.
The offensive woes have threatened to negate the strong work of both pitching staffs. The Rays (44-44) have a 2.77 ERA since May 19, when they began infusing their rotation with the “opener” in select games.
“I think that with the way we’ve pitched, we find ourselves being in a lot of ballgames,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Saturday’s game. “But when the bats are quiet, it just becomes really, really tough to find ways to win ballgames.”
Starting pitchers for the Mets (35-50), meanwhile http://www.49ersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-weston-richburg-jersey , have a 2.25 ERA in the last six games and a 3.94 ERA this year. New York’s three most utilized starters — Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz — are 11-16 despite a 3.06 ERA in 51 games.
“If we win just five games of deGrom’s and Matz’s and Wheeler’s — and that’s being conservative — we’re right where we want to be,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said after Saturday’s game. “And it just hasn’t happened.”
Flexen will make his first start of the season and his first appearance since June 24, when he took the loss after giving up one run in one inning as the Mets fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-7 in 11 innings. He hasn’t started in the majors since last Oct 1, when Flexen allowed six runs (five earned) in 1 1/3 innings as New York fell to the Philadelphia Phillies 11-0 in the season finale.
Eovaldi didn’t factor into the decision in his most recent start Monday, when he gave up two runs in six innings as the Rays fell to the Miami Marlins 3-2 in 10 innings. He has allowed two runs or fewer three times in seven starts this season but has surrendered at least four runs three other times.
Flexen has never faced the Rays. Eovaldi is 1-4 with a 5.01 ERA in nine career starts against the Mets.
BALTIMORE — The Boston Red Sox will try to complete a three-game sweep of the slumping Baltimore Orioles when the two teams meet for a Wednesday matinee at Oriole Park.
Boston (46-22) won the first two games of this series, including Tuesday’s 6-4 victory. Chris Sale (5-4, 2.83 ERA) will pitch for Boston on Wednesday against Yefry Ramirez, who will make his major-league debut.
Sale has lost his last three starts. He pitched well against the White Sox on Friday in his last start, allowing one run on six hits in eight innings — with 10 strikeouts — but still took the loss as Chicago scored a 1-0 victory.
He has pitched effectively against the Orioles in his career http://www.49ersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-cassius-marsh-jersey , going 5-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 15 games, including nine starts, and will try to give the Red Sox their ninth win in 10 games versus Baltimore this season.
The Orioles are struggling on offense right now, a big reason the team has lost six in a row and 13 of their last 15 games.
Ramirez will be called up from Triple-A Norfolk as the Orioles placed Andrew Cashner on the disabled list Tuesday due to a lower back strain. They also brought up relief pitcher Donnie Hart from Norfolk.
Cashner had been scheduled to start Wednesday’s game but Ramirez instead will get his first chance to pitch in the majors.
The Red Sox also will have Mookie Betts in the lineup. Betts had been out since May 26 with a left abdominal strain before being surprisingly activated before Monday’s 2-0 victory.
He went 1-for-5 and manager Alex Cora took him out after the top of the 11th inning so Betts would not be pushed too much on his first day back.
Betts did not play in Tuesday’s win, but he and Cora said it was more just to ease him back in slowly.
“He was going to play two out of three anyway,” Cora said before Tuesday’s game. “Yesterday we extended him a little bit. He’ll start tomorrow.”
Betts also leads the major league All-Star Game voting as the Red Sox likely will have a few players on the American League team.
The Orioles’ best chance for that game will be Manny Machado, who returned to the Baltimore lineup Tuesday after missing a game due to an illness.
Baltimore ran into the same problems Tuesday that have plagued its lineup all season – an inability to score without homers and not being able to get the big hit at the right time.
The Orioles went just 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 13 baserunners overall. There were just too many missed chances once again.
Baltimore has just a .227 team batting average after the Tuesday loss — and it won’t get any easier in the series finale with Sale starting and the solid bullpen waiting behind him.
“You’ve got a guy like Sale starting tomorrow,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter told the media afterward. “They feel pretty confident about their bullpen. They’ve got eight of them down there.”
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